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Small Claims Courts and How They Work

Written by Dian Herdiana on 5:54 AM

Submitted by clunsford

So you’ve decided to go down to the courthouse and go to the Small Claims Division. What now you ask. Let’s take a look at the how and why regarding small claims courts. How did they come about and why are they used so extensively.

The first small claims court was created in Cleveland in 1913. Within a few years every state had such a court of limited jurisdiction. Small claims courts are attractive for consumers who want to collect a small debt or recover damages for a faulty product or for shoddy service. However, small claims courts are used heavily by businesses and public utilities that want to collect payments from customers for unpaid bills. In a single court session, a department store, utility company, or hospital may obtain judgments against a long list of debtors, making the process very economical.

We do not need an attorney to represent us. When you do go to courtroom, you will perhaps be surprised to see this group of people, wearing official badges and sitting in the jury box. Relax; you didn’t accidentally stumble into some major hearing about to take place. Read on.

These folks are called mediators. They have been handpicked by the court and are highly qualified to act on most cases. They have years of knowledge and experience that effectively works for both parties. When the clerk of the court calls your name and the name of the other party, you will both stand up. When the clerk of the court recognizes both parties are present, he or she will hand a mediator your file at which point your little group goes off into a private room.

The mediators do not get to see the file beforehand. The mediator looks at the file, read the statement of claim and asks if there is any conciliatory manner in which the problem can be solved, short of a trial before a judge. During the discussion that follows both parties soon realize the additional costs, time and chances of losing might be. The mediator’s efforts are to settle this out of court. If there is no chance for settlement, you are then instructed to go back into the courtroom and wait for the judge.

It’s unlikely you will have a trial that day. The clerk of the court has to schedule it for another day. Sometimes the judge will hear trials that day but you have no idea at what time. If you do decide to stick around that make sure you are ready when your name is called. If you or the other party is not present then the absent party loses by default.

The small claims courts work very efficiently and you can receive rewards up to $7500 depending on the state in which you reside. How to collect is another matter entirely.

About the Author

Chuck Lunsford is the owner and developer of He offers advice on how to get your credit in order and working for you. Visit his website and learn more about florida mortgage rates.


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